For a “kids” show, Avatar: The Last Airbender had lots of complex characters. There’s Aang, the Avatar himself, who must quickly hone his skills to become the most powerful force in the Four Nations. There’s Zuko, the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, who’s on a desperate quest to prove himself to his father. And then there’s the cabbage merchant, the unluckiest man in the Four Nations.
Running for three seasons on Nickelodeon between 2005-2008, Avatar cemented itself as one of the greatest cartoons ever made. Its fanbase is legion, and the franchise remains as relevant today as it was over a decade ago. Creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are continuing the story with Avatar Studios, which will release animated movies in the coming years. And Netflix is producing a live-action remake of the series.
From the little we know, the remake seems to be on the right path. But don’t take it from me. If anyone has the right to compare, it’s James Sie, who played the iconic cabbage merchant in the original cartoon and returned to play the same character in live-action. “It was a real honor to be called for the show… I can’t say anything about it, but I can say that everybody who worked on it is such a big fan of the series. Not just the story, but the series,” he told It’s Recording Time Media.
While not a hugely important character, the cabbage merchant is a fan favorite. He’s always caught in the crossfire as Aang and his friends go about their antics, his little cabbage stall continually destroyed.
Sie was treated like royalty while on set. “I felt like visiting royalty when I went out to do my scene, because everybody knew me and it felt really special,” he said. Very wholesome!
Avatar: The Last Airbender remake is shot on the “largest virtual production stage in the world”
Unlike M. Night Shymalan’s infamous 2010 movie adaptation, Netflix’s live-action Avatar seeks to do justice to the source material, giving fans the version they deserve. So far, the casting is on point: we’re got folks like Gordon Cormier (Aang), Ian Ousley (Sokka), Kiawentiio (Katara), Dallas Liu (Prince Zuko), and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Uncle Iroh).
It has state-of-the-art technology on its side, too. “Much of the show is shot on the largest virtual production stage in the world. The visual effects artists working on the volume images are the top in their field, and the reality that they can achieve is truly astounding,” director Michael Goi wrote.
Goi also teased the opening scene, which is exactly the same as the first scene of the animated show. “I felt it was important to keep an element of unreality to make the results more organic. And so, for the very first shot on the first day of filming, which was a shot of a boat with two passengers getting swept into a massive ice cave… I added a bit of magic,” he said.
Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender remake started filming last year. The streamer hasn’t begun marketing it yet, nor have they confirmed a release date. It remains to be seen whether we’ll see it hit our screens sometime in 2023, but our fingers are crossed!